An Opposition Day debate on the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on negotiations for a future UK/EU relationship has been scheduled for Wednesday 15 July 2020 in the Main Chamber.
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The negotiations on the UK-EU future relationship began in early March. Planned negotiating rounds in mid-March and early April did not take place because of the coronavirus outbreak. Negotiations resumed in late April by video conference. Negotiating rounds so far have not resolved the major differences between the two parties on key issues, including the EU’s proposed “level playing field” commitments, fisheries, police and judicial co-operation, and governance. In early June, the UK and EU agreed a new intensified negotiating schedule, with weekly face-to-face meetings taking place in late June and July.
At the end of June, the deadline for extending the transition period set by the Withdrawal Agreement passed. This means the transition period will end on 31 December and UK-EU trade arrangements will then revert to WTO rules if no new partnership agreement has been ratified and implemented. The EU has said an agreement would need to be reached by the end of October in order for it to be ratified by the end of the year.
The UK Government has said that the EU’s proposals on level playing field, fisheries and governance are unprecedented when compared to the EU’s agreements with other countries, and do not respect the fact that the UK has left the EU as an independent state. The EU has said that it will not accept “cherry picking” from the EU’s other agreements and that the UK is asking for a status in some areas that is equivalent to that of an EU Member State. The EU says that it is willing to look for compromises but that these need to be on the basis of the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship (agreed by the UK and EU in October 2019), rather than its agreements with other countries.